Greatfire.org, a company that helps Chinese Internet users access pages blocked by Communist Party of China (CPC), confirmed earlier this week that it is being targeted by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
According to a blog post published on Greatfire.org, the attack, which as of this writing is still ongoing, has flooded the site with 2.6 billion requests per hour. As a result, the site’s bandwidth costs have shot up to approximately USD $30,000 a day.
“This kind of attack is aggressive and is an exhibition of censorship by brute force. Attackers resort to tactics like this when they are left with no other options,” explain the admins.
“We are not equipped to handle a DDoS attack of this magnitude and we need help.”
The post goes on to speculate that the attack may have been motivated by a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal that details how Greatfire.org helps users circumvent Chinese governmental censorship.
Greatfire.org operates via creating “mirror” sites, or copies of websites that are traditionally blocked by the Chinese government’s “Great Firewall.” It has created 10 mirror sites thus far, including a copy of Google, a micro-blog site Weibo, and Boxun, a news website that is often critical of the Chinese government.
To protect its mirror sites, Greatfire.org has been using Amazon to host them through its cloud services. This arrangement would require the Chinese government to accept “collateral damage” if it wanted to shut down the mirror sites owned by Greatfire.org. The CPC would have no choice but to attack Amazon and, in turn, block the online marketplace’s servers from reaching a number of large state-owned manufacturing companies.
The site’s admins believe that the attack is indeed the latest handiwork of the Chinese government, which has denounced Greatfire.org as “an anti-China website” and used DNS poisoning against its content delivery network to cause service interruptions in the past.
Even so, they are confident that even if their site goes offline, the resulting outage will only be temporary.
“The authorities will not cut off access to the world’s Internet infrastructure because they know that it is valuable,” one admin wrote.
“If anything, this should accelerate the development and deployment of collateral freedom as a strategy to achieve freedom of access to information in countries like China.”